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Cigar Review: Partagas Heritage Rothschild

24 Apr 2017

Heritage Box

General Cigar’s new Partagas Heritage began with a nod to the past.

HeritageBlender Jhonys Diaz called it a “retrospective blend that celebrated the very best of Partagas.” According to General, Diaz and his team developed the blend more than ten years ago, “patiently saving it for a special release.”

It is a complex concoction. The wrapper is a proprietary leaf, Olancho San Agustin Valley; the binder is Connecticut Broadleaf; and the filler is Honduran Jamastran Dominican Piloto Cubano and Mexican San Andrés. This recipe makes for a tasty smoke.

Most noticable at the start are delicate spices that remain throughout, though they shift in prominence. Other flavors include some sweetness, occasional cinnamon, and leather. I ran across a bit of that Mexican dirt, but not strong enough or long enough to spoil the medium-strength cigar.

I smoked five of the Rothschild size, a 4.5-inch cigar with a ring gauge of 50. All burned superbly, with a tight ash and lots of smoke. I thoroughly enjoyed the size, and it’s interesting to note that when Rothschild commissioned the vitola in the 19th century he was seeking a short, large ring cigar.

This new line has that for today’s smoker. Packaged in boxes of 20, there are three other sizes: Robusto (5.5 x 52), Churchill (7 x 49), and Gigante (6 x 60). Suggested retail prices run from $8.49 for the Rothschild to $9.99 for the Churchill.

However, like many General cigars, list price and real price aren’t always the same. I’ve seen the Rothschild for sale online as low as $22.98 for a five-pack.

General has been producing Partagas cigars of one kind or another for decades. The Cuban brand, dating to 1845, also continues to sell widely around the world. The famed Partagas sign outside the old Havana factory should be familiar to anyone who’s been in more than a couple of cigar shops.

The bands of the two cigars can sometimes be remarkably close. The Heritage bands, for instance, obviously have different wording but otherwise closely echo those on the Cuban Partagas Serie lines.

We have reviewed quite a few Partagas cigars over the years, awarding several high ratings. This little smoke is worthy of joining that group, and I give it four stogies out of five.

[To read more cigar reviews, please click here.]

George E

photo credit: General Cigar Co.

Cigar Review: Drew Estate x Caldwell All Out Kings Smash

12 Apr 2017

All Out Kings - Drew x Caldwell

All Out Kings has been an extraordinarily anticipated cigar since the initial announcement last year. A collaboration between Caldwell Cigar Co. and Drew Estate, the line began shipping only recently.

All Out Kings - 2Here’s how the blend is described on the website set up for the line: “All Out Kings debuts with tobaccos from La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate in Estelí, Nicaragua, including Connecticut stalk-cut and sun-cured Habano wrapper with an Indonesian Sumatra binder and filler comprised of Jalapa Viso, Estelí Viso, Dominican C-98 Seco, and Connecticut Broadleaf Ligero.” Originally, production was planned to take place at the Joya de Nicaragua factory, but ultimately the blend was rolled at La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate.

Sounds intriguing, doesn’t it?

I thought so before I tried one. But the flavors from this smoke just didn’t line up with what I enjoy in a cigar.

First, there was what I can describe only as a dirty taste that I’m guessing comes from the stalk-cut wrapper, a procedure which can produce heavily earthy notes. Then there was the sharp, back-of-the-throat bite that was particularly intense in the first inch or so and came back in the final third.

Much of the cigar—I smoked three of the robusto-sized Smash (5 x 52), for which I paid $69 for a five-pack—exhibited what I’ve come to think of as a campfire taste with some astringency along the way.

On the other hand, the cigar is an extraordinary performer. The draw and smoke production in all those I smoked were excellent, while the burn was razor sharp. The white ash held on tightly throughout.

I can’t imagine this cigar will engender many middle-of-the-road reactions. If it suits your palate, you’ll likely be a big fan; if not, your reaction will probably be similar to mine. And the only way to find out where you fall on the scale is to try one.

All Out Kings comes in four vitolas. The other three are Gimme Your Lunch Money (5.75 x 46), Foreverlast (6.5 x 54), and The Fourth Pose (6 x 54). All are available in 20-count boxes.

For me, this is a tough cigar to rate. All Out Kings is obviously not a bad cigar. It just doesn’t appeal to me. which is why I give it three stogies out of five.

[To read more cigar reviews, please click here.]

George E

photo credit: Caldwell/Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: La Gloria Cubana Serie R Black Maduro No. 58

3 Apr 2017

Serie R Black Maduro

I still recall the first La Gloria Cubana Serie R I smoked, lighting it up years ago at the now-shuttered Bethesda Tobacco just outside Washington, D.C. It was undoubtedly the strongest cigar I’d smoked up to that time, and it knocked me for a loop.

Serie R Black MaduroBack then, the natural Serie R, with filler from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic, was among the more powerful sticks on the market, as well as a progenitor of the large ring gauge craze.

Ernesto Perez-Carrillo introduced the Serie R in 1999, the same year he sold his El Credito operation to General Cigar.

I suspect the extraordinary success of that original Serie R line is what led General Cigar to introduce numerous variations. The Serie R Black Maduro is one of two that debuted last year. It’s for sale online, with the sibling Serie R Estelí Maduro sold as a brick-and-mortar exclusive.

The Black Maduro comes in three sizes, with the name of each reflecting the ring gauge: No. 60 (6 x 60), No. 64 (6.25 x 64), and No. 58 (6.9 x 58). You’ll find them all online for about $5 apiece by the five-pack—even cheaper by the 18-count box.

No. 58 has a dark Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper with the same Nicaraguan blend of binder and filler found in the original Serie R Estelí line. The colorful band features the familiar updated La Gloria Cubana female image with a secondary red band demoting “Maduro” in silver, as well as a foot covering.

The pre-light aroma of the wrapper is typical of many maduros: rich, warm, and a little sweet. And, after firing the cigar up, the flavors also include those we often associate with a maduro cigar. There’s chocolate and coffee, of course, and a bit of raisin. Mixed in as the cigar progresses is some pepper that tends to remain in the background.

From the start, the burn and draw are excellent, with smoke production first-rate. The burn is fairly slow, and this big vitola lasts a long time.

Coming in at such a low price, this cigar is easy to recommend for smokers who enjoy maduros, or those who haven’t tried them and want to expand their palate. I give the La Gloria Cubana Serie R Black Maduro No. 58 three and a half stogies out of five.

[To read more cigar reviews, please click here.]

George E

photo credit: General Cigar Co. / Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Cornelius & Anthony Meridian Robusto

22 Mar 2017

MerdianWhile you may have encountered the Cornelius & Anthony Meridian in the past, don’t confuse it with this cigar. That’s because the company scrapped the original iteration that debuted in 2015 and replaced it with something new while keeping the name.

That something is a medium-strength smoke with an Ecuadorian wrapper, a Nicaraguan binder, and filler tobaccos from both Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. They’re rolled at Erik Espinoza’s La Zona Factory in Estelí, Nicaragua.

For this review, I smoked the Robusto, a 5-inch stick with a ring gauge of 52 and a $9.25 MSRP. The line also features a Gordo (6 x 60), Toro (6 x 50), and Corona Gorda (5.5 x 46). All come in 20-count boxes illustrated in the bygone art style that’s become something of a Cornelius & Anthony trademark. Another familiar touch is the use of a secondary band with the cigar’s name.

The Meridian starts with quite a bit of power that tapers off after about a half-inch, maintaining a medium strength level for the remainder of the experience. The finish is pleasing and lingers a little before dissipating.

My first taste impression is of rich wood mixed with a little tobacco sweetness. A pleasant combination. As the strength wanes as a moderate spice enters the mix. From start to finish, the flavors weave in and out of each other, making for an interesting journey.

Combustion performance was excellent in all of those I sampled. Lots of smoke, straight burn, and an excellent draw.

I’ve enjoyed quite a few Cornelius & Anthony cigars, and the new Meridian is no exception. It’s a cigar I think will appeal to almost all smokers regardless of their level of experience. I rate the Cornelius & Anthony Meridian Robusto four stogies out of five.

[To read more cigar reviews, please click here.]

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: La Palina Nicaragua Oscuro Gordo

25 Feb 2017

Each Saturday and Sunday we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

Gordo La Palina Nicaragua Oscuro

I lit this behemoth (6 x 58), a new line from La Palina, at the kickoff of an NFL playoff game and was still puffing well into halftime. It was an excellent smoke for the occasion. Starting with a burst of pepper, it added a toasty element after about a half inch. As the cigar burned, the pepper rose and fell while other flavors, including coffee and leather, came to the fore. The blend is an Ecuadorian Oscuro wrapper over Nicaraguan filler and binder, it’s rolled at A.J. Fernandez’s factory. I paid about $9.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: La Palina

Quick Smoke: Eastern Standard Midnight Express Toro

18 Feb 2017

Each Saturday and Sunday we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

Eastern Standard

This line from Caldwell Cigar Co. is billed as the maduro version of the Eastern Standard line, with an Arapiraca wrapper. The Toro (6 x 52), about $12.50, that I smoked kicked off with a very nice spice for about a quarter of an inch and then settled into more common maduro flavors like coffee and chocolate. It burned slowly and produced a great deal of smoke, except at several airy spots where the smoke almost disappeared. I also had trouble with the wrapper burn throughout. Not a bad smoke by any means, but it required too much effort for me.

Verdict = Hold.

George E

photo credit: Caldwell Cigar Co.

Cigar Review: Foundry Time Flies 550

15 Feb 2017


When large companies find themselves under assault from smaller operations with innovative products, the response is often to try to replicate what’s leading the attack.

Time FliesThink of Ford’s Pinto to compete with smaller foreign imports, or MillerCoors’ Blue Moon reaction to craft beer brewers, or any one of many similar situations.

In the cigar world, a prime example is General Cigar’s Foundry Tobacco Co. The division was created in 2012 under the now-departed Michael Giannini, who’d come to General after Swedish Match bought Ernesto Perez-Carrillo’s successful boutique brand that made La Gloria Cubana.

Foundry has featured nearly every card in the boutique deck: exotic packaging, silly and obscure brand names, baroque themes, limited editions, elaborate back stories about the tobaccos, etc. Additionally, General Cigar has moved some of its historic, if under-appreciated, brands like Bolivar, Ramón Allones,  and Temple Hall under the Foundry umbrella.

With Time Flies, Foundry joined in the collaboration trend. This four-size line, introduced at the 2016 IPCPR Trade Show, was created by Giannini and A.J. Fernandez and rolled at Fernandez’s factory in Estelí, Nicaragua.

With all that surrounds Time Flies—skulls, wild colors, aphorisms on the band, a $35,000 humidor—you’d be forgiven for assuming the line is just another gimmicky creation. In this case, though, I believe you’d be wrong. The half-dozen Time Flies robustos I’ve smoked are strong, satisfying cigars.

The regular release Time Flies smokes feature an Ecuadorian Habano 2000 wrapper over Nicaraguan binder and filler. MSRP on the 550 robusto (5 x 50) is $7.50, and the most expensive in the line is the 660 at $9. (There’s also a limited edition with a Sumatra wrapper, which I haven’t tried.)

The opening notes of the cigar are hot pepper, which remind me of some of Don José “Pepin” Garcia’s early creations. The volume lowers about an inch in, which is where you begin to pick up woody notes and dark coffee.

At the halfway point, the pepper reemerges and mingles with some cedar. Toward the final third, there’s some sweetness as well.

I found the overall strength to be on the higher end of medium, though it ramps up a bit in the second half. The finish is fairly light. Construction, burn, and draw are excellent, as is the smoke production.

All in all, I enjoyed Time Flies and rate it four stogies out of five.

[To read more cigar reviews, please click here.]

George E

photo credit: Foundry Cigars/Stogie Guys